Post 39, Defending and Seeking the Truth?

Occasionally an article or a book is so memorable that, years after its publication, we readily recall its main thrust. Forever after we feel a warm glow of appreciation when the author’s name is mentioned.

Chris Blake penned the piece “Are We Guardians of Truth or Seekers of Truth?” that was printed in Spectrum 34:1 (Winter 2006), 28-29. Why is such a short article so everlasting in the mind?

Since I couldn’t remember the exact date that the article was published, this morning I entered “Seventh-day Adventist Periodical Index” into GOOGLE, clicked on the “author” option, then entered “Blake, Chris.” Immediately I had a listing of 202 articles by the right Blake (GOOGLE references so many Christopher Blakes that it is of no help at all). It was easy to scroll down to find the details of the article that I wanted to re-read; then all I had to do was go to the shelf that preserves my back issues of the journal.

Some of us remember Chris as a must-read writer in Insight magazine (he was also Insight’s editor for eight years). As an author, lecturer and speaker he has not only kept people in the church he loves, he has fostered their spiritual and intellectual growth-and thus helped them engage in the mission of Jesus Christ.

Blake’s article starts with the bold claim: “Of the many fundamental divisions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, perhaps none is as practically meaningful as the difference between Guardians of Truth and Seekers of Truth.” Then he offers an initial seven definitions:

Guardians serve God and fear him. Seekers serve God and enjoy him.

Guardians talk of historic truths. Seekers live out present truth.

Guardians emphasize performance. Seekers emphasize participation.

Guardians consider early Adventists guardians. Seekers consider early Adventists seekers.

Guardians interpret literally. Seekers recognize irony, audience, symbolism, and context.

Guardians believe the Church is an organization. Seekers believe the Church is a force.

Guardians defend the truth. Seekers feed on it.

Blake has three other similar lists of descriptors. He abbreviates the Guardians Of Truth as GOT, and the Seekers Of Truth as SOUGHT–Seekers Of Undeniable Good, Healthful Truth. He admits:

Both GOT and SOUGHT camps harbor committed Christians. Both carry accumulated penchants, motivations, and aptitudes. And we can all find ourselves deep in the other camp depending on the issue or circumstance. Still, we see differences emerge in myriad ways.

For GOT, the Christian life is mainly sin management. For SOUGHT, the Christian life is mainly inclusive friendships.

Guardians confuse tastes with morals. Seekers confuse saints with forgiven sinners.

Guardians define who is worthy to belong. Seekers refuse to allow others to define them outside the Church.

Guardians prescribe and proscribe. Seekers say “whosoever will.”

Guardians are quick to count decisions. Seekers aim at creating disciples.

To Guardians, it’s all about salvation. To seekers, it’s all about love.

Guardians see life in terms of “us” and “them.” Knowing we’re all in this together, Seekers don’t view even Guardians as “them.”

If you’d like to know Chris Blake better, he will smile at you from the Union College (Lincoln, Nebraska) website, where he is Associate Professor of English and Communication and “Leader in the Something Else Sabbath School.” You may like to look up his article and ponder applications of the fourteen defining ideas that I have quoted, and the other fourteen that I have not quoted. You may even want to read his 2007 book published by Pacific Press, Swimming Against the Current, a volume that includes the article under discussion as well as many others of the 202.

Then, you may like to go to the Ellen G. White Estate website and do a word study on how Ellen White uses such graphic terms as “present truth” and “the truth as it is in Jesus.”

I love the challenge in her chapter entitled “Great Distress Coming,” written early in American Civil War, Testimonies 1, page 262:

Greater light shines upon us than shone upon our fathers. We cannot be accepted or honored of God in rendering the same service, or doing the same works, that our father’s did. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as they were, we must imitate their faithfulness and zeal,improve our light as they improved theirs,and do as they would have done had they lived in our day. We must walk in the light which shines upon us, otherwise that light will become darkness.

This website is centred on the idea that, while there may be times that Christians are called to be Guardians of Truth, our main commission is to be Seekers of Truth.

Thanks for the apt descriptors, J. Christopher Blake!

Arthur Patrick, 1 February 2012